The Accidental Harrier….

The Accidental Harrier

For anyone thinking of joining a running club the thing that seems to cause the most worries is “will I be quick enough to keep up” quickly followed by ,”they’ll all be fitter than me”. We aren’t all super fast, born-to-run, hyper competitive athletes at Wigan Harriers. In fact you may struggle to find anyone who fits that description in the Endurance Wing. We are wide mix of runners from vastly experienced to new, fast to slow and everything in between.  Don’t believe us?

Well have a read of Part One of Melanie Wanes story of how and why she ended up a Wigan Harrier:

My name is Mel and I am NOT a runner, well not on purpose anyway. A swimmer maybe, but definitely not a runner…until, that is, that I met Gaz. He was into running and so I thought I’d give it a try – a bonding exercise of sorts (it worked, we’re now married). He started taking me out a couple of times a week for a very slow tour around the block – I hated those runs…my lungs burned, my legs hurt and 20 minutes was my limit.

Somehow before I knew it I was signed up to a 5k and a 10k which gave me the motivation I needed to push through the pain. Before I knew I had completed two runs and gained a new incentive for running – the medals!

I’ll be honest that was it for me and running for a while, but then a couple of things happened to push us back together. Gaz proposed and my 30th birthday loomed large.

Like every bride to be, I felt a need to lose weight and running was the best way to do it. As I began to lose weight, my enthusiasm for running increased and before I knew it I was actually enjoying my runs, choosing to run further and able to run faster. I also gained something that I hadn’t had in a long time – body confidence.

By the time the wedding came round I had lost a stone and a half through running and enjoyed it so much that our mini-moon in the Lakes was capped off with a 10k night run around Grizedale forest. I even found myself setting targets for my running. It was with these in mind, that I joined Gaz, at the Harriers, one cold, dark night.

In my first few months training with the Harriers my running times improved massively and I enjoyed running as part of a group – not always feeling like I was holding Gaz back or running alone. There were of course the club nights out and some cheerleading at the cross countries to be enjoyed too…

I was supposed to be cheerleading the day it happened…I’d arrived wrapped up warm to cheer on the team through the snow and mud of a cross country race; but as we arrived 10 minutes before the ladies race started, the ladies were a runner down. Before I knew what had happened, I was shivering on the start line in a borrowed kit. I was a Harrier…albeit an accidental one!

My first couple of months as a Harrier were great, I was getting fitter and the PB’s were rolling in…until I fell pregnant that is! Morning sickness hit and I found it difficult to run for a couple of months. As the nausea passed I was on the move again, although my new bump restricted me to a jog/walk. At 5 months pregnant, I completed the 5k Colour Run in Manchester and that final hundred metres was the last sprint (ish) finish I’d do for a while – the backache was a bit much!

I assumed I’d be back running in no time one the baby had arrived, but the reality wasn’t that easy. The plan was to give myself 6 weeks to recover and then get back out running. In the end the Tinker was 9 weeks old when I finally got my trainers back on and ventured into Amberswood, Gaz alongside me, pushing the pram at my side. It was the most difficult run of my life, both physically and mentally. Still carrying some of my baby weight, my running kit didn’t look or fit right – I got changed at least 3 times in my search for an outfit that didn’t make me feel too self conscious (let’s face it, sausage legs are not a good look!).

Off and running I was far slower than I had been and my body was resisting every step of the way. I wasn’t able to run for more than 2 minutes at a time without getting tired and out of breath. The more I ran, the more it hurt and I had to resort to pain killers to make it down to the changing mat the next time that duty called! After that first run, I wondered if I’d ever get my running mojo back…


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